november playlist

Brighten your day with our November playlist

Take your mind off the impending lockdown, and give your ears a well deserved treat with our carefully curated November playlist.

It's been another superb month for releases in Scotland, and our Glasgow team have put together a compilation of tracks that does mighty justice to the incredible local scene at the moment.

A playlist diverse as always, check out notable releases from Taz And The Maniacs, Tommy McGuire, Paul Mullen Music, Rigid Soul, Chris Greig & The Merchants, Lucia & The Best Boys, Ceiti and Quiche.

susan montgomery resonate confernece many hats interview glasgow scotland

Many Hats with Resonate's Susan Montgomery

For the next instalment of Many Hats we sit down with Susan Montgomery, Project Manager at Glasgow’s annual Resonate Music Conference, and Senior Music Publicist at Publishing Company 23 Precinct.

Susan has been working on producing Resonate for 4 years now which usually happens in Glasgow each year. This year, like everyone, Susan and her team are having to adapt to the strange new conditions we find ourselves in, so this year, Resonate 2020 will be taking place virtually in November. Susan talks us through her experience – from starting a biochemistry degree to following her passion for music by going back to college to study music, and subsequently kick-starting the impressive career she holds today! See below for wise words, hot tips and some impressive anecdotes…

What are your current roles? What do they involve?

Right now I work as the Senior Music Publisher at 23rd Precinct Music, which is first and foremost a publishing company, so we represent songwriters, composers and music creators, and we also have 2 in-house record labels – so I wear many hats in that role!

I also Project-Manage Resonate which is a music industry conference, which normally happens physically, but this year it’s happening digitally. It happens in November every year in Glasgow, and we host a series of panel discussions, one to one sessions, workshops, seminars – a whole bunch of things! We’ve really worked to grow that over the past 4/3 years to be a sort of calendar – staple – event in a lot of Scottish music-people’s lives I think now, and that’s really where we’re at!


Amazing! What key skills do you use in each role?

At 23rd Prescient as a Publisher I have to be great at communicating. I have to be really forthcoming with ideas, pitching to labels and management companies. So if I’ve got a writer that writes a song I have to find a home for that song, so I directly pitch to management companies, not just here in the UK, but all over the world. 

I do a lot of pitching for Sync as well – Sync is when you put music to a moving image, so that could be a game or trailer, advert, whatever else. Basically I organise all the catalogs, all the new music that our writers are writing. I have to then process it on a platform – so being organised is a really important skill. Being able to self-motivate is really important and being able to prioritise your tasks. You know, if I get a briefing for a Sync and it’s urgent I have to drop everything I’m doing and respond to that. 

And in terms of Resonate, I think being a good team leader – hopefully I am a good team leader I don’t know, I’ve not had any bad feedback so far! [laughs] – but being able to manage and delegate tasks is really hard, especially if you’re a control-freak, but it’s just about overcoming those challenges that you face with just growing up I guess!

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job/s? 

From a publishing perspective, that’s really where my passion lies.  I really love songwriting and just think it’s such a magical thing. Seeing someone get a track picked up by a big label, or maybe I’m working with a vocalist who’s just produced an acapella and I get a producer to bring that track to life, I love that. And if you manage to sign it to a big label, or it doesn’t even have to be a ‘big’ label, but just the feeling of accomplishment, and knowing that you’ve helped that writer or vocalist [is great]. 

We’ve work on a long term basis, so when we sign people we sign them for at least 18 months, maybe 2 years, so it’s really rewarding seeing those writers progress and develop and grow in confidence. Being able to say, “I’m going to go into this session, and I’m going to smash this” or “I’m not going to feel overwhelmed in a studio with people with 20 years experience” – I think we can all suffer from that anxiety sometimes– so that’s definitely one of the most rewarding parts. 

And on the conference side, the rewards are just seeing people learn and talk to each other. I think a lot can be said for people communicating and networking, there’s no better feeling! Making friends… Remember when we used to go out and meet friends! [laughs] I think on an employment level, it really is just seeing people develop and grow – that’s really rewarding. 


What experience did you need for the role/s you’re currently in?

Well I started out studying Biochemistry – I dropped out of that because I realised I didn’t want to be a scientist and really I just went to college – that can seem like a bit of a step back sometimes, or society has a dim view if you change your mind or your career… But I went back to college, and my lecturer was actually signed to the company that I work for now, so basically it came to fruition that he suggested me for an opening at the company. So in that sense going into higher education did benefit me.

Was it a music course?

Yeah yeah, a HND in Music Business!  I went from cutting up rats at uni to learning about something I had always been really, really passionate about [laughs] – but maybe skeptical, about a career there. And I think this series will probably point out that there’s so many avenues that you can open your eyes to – music publishing, record label management, being an artist, working in the live sector, working in sync, – there’s such a handful. There’s industry bodies, there’s so many opportunities out there, which I really opened my eyes to when I was at college.

And from there, I was just doing the crappy jobs like working the door and doing the cloakroom at gigs, and just really getting my face out there. I happened to meet the manager of a band [from that] and then I was a tour manager for a little bit – I don’t think I really qualified to be tour manager [at the time] but it it was definitely about learning on the job. it was really cool, I got to travel to all parts of the world, and it was a really cool experience. 


What was the most challenging aspect of first starting out in the industry? 

I think it was just overcoming that anxiety that I think you have when you’re surrounded by people who know a lot more than you – or that you think know a lot more than you. You can feel a bit sheepish sometimes, asking questions. And I think because I was a little older, I was maybe 20/21 when I was first getting into this, I was just thinking ‘it’s now or never’ (even though it wasn’t) but you’ve just got to have that confidence. And if you have a question, just ask. I think for a long time I was sort of like, oh man I can’t ask that person, they’ll think I’m dumb… But really you never experience anything like that, it was always that everyone was really up for helping. 

I’ve actually ended up speaking at Academy of Music and Sound classes, and reflect that onto the students there too – just don’t be afraid to ask questions. Its challenging getting your foot in the door, but definitely it’s important to believe in yourself. And there are gaps in the market, so start a company that fits that gap! I would recommend people do that, just being innovative and inquisitive – innovative and inquisitive! There you go [laughs]


Was your current job always something you wanted to do?

I found out about [music publishing] at college, and music publishing is basically just looking after songwriters and producers, and pitching tracks to labels… So not everyone that writes music is going to perform it, so those that are writing the tracks, I’m going to try and get those placed with labels or management companies or in advents. That really pricked my interest when I was at college, I did my own research on it… But up until that point I had no idea that job existed! It’s a sort of mythical area of the music industry that not a lot of people seem to delve into. But I thought it was really interesting!

In terms of the event side of things, I used to put on events and gigs myself a lot, so had a tiny bit of experience with that – nothing on the scale of a conference. But still, it goes back to having that ground knowledge of a lot of different areas. I think is really what the pertinent benefits are from going into music and studying music – you get a piece of every sector. Its a good time because you sort of find ‘your crowd’ as well – I hate that phrase actually [laughs] – but finding out what it is you want to do with your life. When people ask 14 and 16 year olds what they want to do with the rest of their life, they don’t know – and of course they don’t know! So I think going to college and finding that time where you can discover what you’re interested in… Whether that’s a sound engineer or a songwriter. That’s the time to find out.

What about your music education? How has that informed your skills and experience?

For sure! I went to Glasgow Kelvin College and one of my lecturers was in the band The Bluebells, which were a really big band in Scotland in the 80s. And he was really good at getting the best out of people in his class, getting people to come out of their shell and creating opportunities. Like, we went and saw Stereophonics at The Hyrdo in Glasgow and being there and physically witnessing what was happening… Those physical elements to the course where you weren’t just sitting and looking at a computer screen I found really valuable. I was able to talk to people and we were able to network.. And nobody likes networking! Anybody that says they like networking are lying! [laughs] But you just have to find your own way of dealing with it and making it comfortable for you. That was a good experience being at college, and sort of learning those tricks. And don’t always hard sell yourself – have an actual interest in the person you’re talking too. 

I did that course for 2 years, and actually moved down to London to complete a degree at the University of West London, but that fell through and I moved back to Glasgow and just stumbled into this job! So I was really, really fortunate. But definitely having that bit of paper that says you have a qualification in music helps, it’s really valuable in terms of getting your foot in the door and it just lets people know that you have a steady and ground knowledge of music and the music industry, so it’s really beneficial. 


Even networking through music education itself can be really helpful as well? 

And I know through the Glasgow (AMS) branch, they have a lot of guest speakers come through as well. So myself, but they also bring people from all over the UK, and it’s just about going up to that person at the end and saying ‘thanks for your time’ or making yourself memorable in some way, or just letting that person know, if you’re a manager or artist or whatever, just going up and telling them. And if you need to email them 6 months later, they’ll remember you asked the person who thanked them for their time.  Just little things like that, they can seem so menial, but they really are important.

What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received throughout your career?

It’s quite hard to pick out one valuable bit of information… But I think just knowing that you’re doing what you’re passionate about. I think if you’re not passionate about it, maybe you should reconsider? I think I’ve always known that music is my passion and I feel like I’ve got a connection to music… I always sort of felt like I’d end up here. I don’t really believe in all that sort of stuff, but I think, just know that you’re following your passion. And know that it’s going to be hard working in the music industry. There’s quite a lot of people fighting for very few jobs – it can be that case in a lot of sectors – but you have to be committed and you have to be driven. I think that would be the takeaway quotes – driven and committed!


And finally, what advice would you give to current students starting out in the industry right now?

I think just spend as much time as you can learning… I think if I was to try and think of one positive thing that’s come out of the COVID thing – which obviously there isn’t much – but the opportunity for e-learning as improved, there’s lots of things going online. Following things like BPI which is a governmental body for UK music and they have lots of programmes available for free. And we have a conference obviously – shameless plug here! [laughs] – and we’ll have lots of events on throughout the day, so really take the opportunity to expand your knowledge! 

And in terms of employability, after this whole thing ends, particularly the live sector is decimated right now, but we’re all working together as a community and there’s lots of great campaigns to get involved in like #LetTheMusicPlay and #WeMakeEvents – even societal things like Pride and Black Lives Matter – music has had a huge impact on all those movements (and vice versa), so it’s still a really good time to get involved in music. Maybe not in the way you would hope to right now, but there’s still lots of things happening in society and with movements that hopefully once this is all over, will set you in good stead for getting a job – setting yourself apart from others applying for a position for instance. 

My best bit of advice would be to just be yourself, don’t try to be anyone else, and be committed to whatever it is you’re passionate about, if it’s events then be committed to that, if you’re passionate about being a [sound] engineer be committed to that! I know how hard it is to get your foot in the door, I would definitely just say get out there, don’t be afraid to email don’t be afraid to message on social media – whatever medium you see fit! And don’t be afraid!

Resonate Conference 2020 will be held virtually on 26 November. You can purchase tickets here.

Resonate is an annual music conference held in Glasgow’s east end. Now in its 4th year, we’ve built the event from humble beginnings and now is considered a staple in the Scottish music calendar [we think!].

This year we’re making the move online and hosting our event via Hopin. You can expect the same top quality panels, 1-2-1s, workshops, demonstrations and more all from the comfort of your home. Tickets are on sale now!

We’ve build our event upon 4 key pillars; collaboration, creativity, accessibility and development. These are key objectives that we try to apply to all the activities within the programme. We’ve worked with local venues and event spaces to open up our programme to accommodate technology workshops, one-one advice sessions, group activities, presentations and panel events. Although we won’t be able to utilise  those physical spaces for the same purposes this year we’re still as keen as ever to have a diverse range of learning and networking activities for all our virtual attendees.


Follow Resonate for updates:
@resonatescotland | Facebook | Twitter



Words & Interview: Isobel Trott
Photos: © Resonate 2019

becky grinham many hats interview exeter academy of music

Many Hats with Becky Grinham

This week on Many Hats we’re joined by the lovely Becky Grinham, who, after leaving the Academy of Music and Sound Exeter at 18, has developed her name in the local music network as an aspiring session vocalist and keen-bean in the events scene. Having crossed over into a range of dicipines and roles since she started her course including performance, PR, marketing and writing for publications such as GROW Magazine, she’s now establishing herself as an impressive session vocalist. Basically she’s turned her hand to an impressive range of roles since school – and we wanted to hear all about it!

We chat tips of the trade as Becky tells us how she cultivated experience and skills in the Exeter scene. While it’s taken her some trial and error to find the area of the industry that suits her best right now, she’s also refreshingly open minded – she tells us how she discovered her current passion for session vocals, but also how she’d be up for trying new roles in the future. A DJ perhaps, or songwriter. But moreover, Becky gets to the bottom of how important it is to cultivate your own path – and create your own job. Read on to unravel these such pearls of wisdom…


What are you up to at the moment then Becky?

Well there’s never just one job! [laughs] So at the moment I’m working in a cafe to keep funds up, which is good transferable skills. But mostly right now, I am just a musician – I’m a singer and bassist. I would usually perform in a couple of bands, but I’ve had loads of recording work over lockdown, which has been amazing! I’ve learnt loads of new skills with that, so I’m doing a lot of remote recording at the moment. 

And then I help occasionally – less so now – with a bit of writing, marketing and press stuff too. I recently wrote for a magazine called GROW, which is an East Devon/Exeter based, positive news magazine. And I did a GROW Playlist for them each month – the lovely Hannah O’Brien (founder of Exeter Uncovered) has now taken that over. But I’m still regularly proofing stuff and helping my partner with his press kits and stuff like that. At the moment that’s kind of it, but I’m hoping to get out performing live again soon!

Yeah, hopefully things pick up again soon! And you’re Academy alumni, is that right? 

Yeah that’s right! I did the BTEC in Music performance, when I was 16-18!


What skills do you use in your current roles on a day-to-day basis? 

Having an outgoing personality definitely helps! I’ve spent a lot of time building connections and friends – it doesn’t always have to be solely work related. But just wanting to be that person who is approachable but also wants to approach people, so a lot of my work has come through word of mouth and meeting people. Definitely being somewhat social – I know that some people would disagree with that sometimes, but I find that in my line of work it’s a lot of that.  And generally just being reliable, turning up on time and having everything ready to go.

And then I guess – I don’t know if having flair is a skill –but maybe trying to think outside the box and be creative with it. Obviously it’s a creative role, so thinking  ‘what are you going to do that stands you apart?’ There’s quite a lot of skills involved! But I think that’s it in a nutshell! And being confident as well, that really helps.

What experience did you need to have prior to your current roles to help you within them?

Being outgoing was one of the main things that contributed towards getting more experience – I studied music in school and at college, but the majority of it has come from being thrown in the deep-end and just wanting to do it as well! For instance, I was doing a bit of writing at the time when I was 18, and a friend of mine just said to me; hey I’ve got some friends who are going on tour and they need someone to basically keep their sh**t together, manage the overall logistics of it -some PA stuff and deal with some of the financial stuff like invoicing – and they just asked if I wanted to do it!

I had no experience in that whatsoever, besides a bit of admin.  So I got stuck in, but made them aware that I didn’t have the strict experience so they knew what they were buying into. But you know it worked really well, and they were really happy to have someone younger, and give it a new lease of life. A lot of trust was needed but it definitely worked for the better. My experience has generally come from being recommended a lot of the time, and just rolling with it, being really confident, doing my research, preparing as much as I can, and then hopefully just pulling it off!


A lot of learning on the job?

Yeah totally, and I’ve tinkered with a lot of different parts of the industry. Events work too, and again there’s a lot of passion behind that work – I really love doing all that stuff. I’ve done a lot of work for free just because I love doing it.  I guess that’s maybe why now people come to me as a person they can trust and recommend for jobs. Yeah, it’s taken a lot of hard work and free work to get here!


I hear you! And is this how you fell into the marketing and writing side of things? The necessity for bands and artists to promote themselves? And for you to promote yourself as an artist too?

Yeah, so I would always do my own socials and stuff anyway and help my partner with his too. And I really enjoyed doing that, seeing the end product and its reach. Then I met the Co-Founder of GROW at an event, and I basically just went up and had a chat! I just said I loved the magazine. I knew a lot of young people who read it, and I suggested it would be good to see more creative stuff in there – like music. There’s so much going on in Devon. And [I said] if they ever needed someone to help contribute, I’d love to do it. So pretty much just put myself straight back in there. And the next month, he got back asking when I could send in my submission!

Amazing stuff.  It must have been hard first starting out working in music though – and trying to first find out what you wanted to do? What was it like?

[When] I finished college I was really happy and I didn’t think at the time that I wanted to go and do a degree – it wasn’t really something that interested me. I thought ‘I have plenty of time to decide if I did want to go back’. I knew lots of people who had done degrees and I wouldn’t doubt it for a second, but I just didn’t feel it was right at the time. So I started working over the next year, doing all kinds of jobs –bar work and events, stuff like that – and creative projects alongside. Then I got into writing and then the Tour Manager job came up.  I put gigs on hold for a couple of years, but then – I’m very indecisive! [laughs] – I started working on events.  

I suppose the tour stuff really inspired me to see behind the scenes – seeing how front-of-stage all comes together. Then seeing everyone’s reaction to a gig, all the passion that goes into it.  I started working at a few little events and festivals – a bit of stage managing, with Academy at Bearded Theory for instance.  I put performing on the back burner for a bit until the end of last year. I had a bit of a downward spiral, I was struggling a bit with mental health, so I thought lets strip everything back and see what exactly it is I enjoy doing, and what I’m good at.  It’s taken me all this time really to find that performance is exactly what I want to do! And I recently discovered session work (being a session vocalist) and I think now that’s the route I want to take. Obviously I still really enjoy all the event work, but as a supplement now to performing – hopefully!

So it’s taken me quite a while to get to this point – and performance isn’t the only job, no way!  I would definitely recommend a process of elimination and seeing what works for you, what you’ll feel happy in. I don’t like being in the limelight, I prefer being part of the ‘big thing’ and contributing towards the making of something – I prefer being in the background.  I couldn’t imagine being like, I don’t know, Dua Lipa or someone – centre stage! I’m not like that [laughs] – but I love working with musicians and with the technicians and working behind the scenes. But who knows! In 5 years time… Who knows! We’ll see.

Exactly – there’s plenty of time to try different stuff and find out what suits you. As well as the benefit for being freelance – to try lots of different stuff. That’s great.

I would just say don’t ever not do anything because you’re worried about something or it doesn’t pay – you have to put in the hard work and the hours, so just do it, get on with it, you never know you might just want to keep it as a hobby or you might want to pursue it.


What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of working in music? 

Definitely from a performance point of view, seeing people connect with your music. Maybe that’s a generic answer, but it is just something that you can’t really describe! It’s really fulfilling and you just feel that your hard work is really paying off… I know I said I don’t like being centre stage, but people do notice your worth and what you’re doing still which is really fulfilling. 

And I guess [also] having people reach out to you. I’ve had people reach out to me via Instagram and stuff for recording. It’s really nice to know that people have been out there watching and listening to you!  Yeah it’s really fulfilling to know that people are there listening and they’re like, ‘yeah, cool yeah get her on board’!


How about the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received?

A few years ago I was in London at a family party and there was someone there I spoke to who had an array of clients that seemed massive to me! So I just struck up a conversation with him and basically asked him the same thing – what would your advice be?  He said that I should just always be energetic – give it energy and passion and you’ll never not be in work. He said you can have a degree or not… But basically passion and energy always wins over skillset or anything else. If you have the whole package then brilliant! But if you just go for it and have genuine passion, then you can’t lose. It might be quite a long return, but someone will hear you! That’s probably the best bit of advice I’ve received.

I [also] did a roundtable with the Academy for the 25th Anniversary (at Exeter Phoenix).  I was part of the roundtable with a great bunch of people; John Waddell, Sadie Horler, Emma Twamley (GlasDenbury Festival), Laura Wright, Ben Green (Pattern Pusher) and Kate Graham. We were all just firing great advice off each other! John has such a wealth of experience, and then there’s Emma who’s been running events and a festival or as long as she can remember! And then Sadie who’s just on the scene constantly. All those different walks of life in once place, and having great advice from them was amazing.

How did your music qualification help you get to where you are today, or help you in past roles?

I chose The Academy when I was at school because my music teacher was strongly recommending it! And knew one of the tutors, and told me he thought I’d really click there, and [the local] college was maybe a little… Less performance based let’s say. I’m not the most academic person, and with theory and stuff like that, I did want to tighten up and improve that side of things, but I didn’t want it to rob my performance experience, and the fun for me. So it was that good balance of theory, and performance. And the LPW (Live Performance Workshop on the AMS curriculum) was my absolutely favourite part of the week, of course!  I loved learning all the new tunes and performing with a bunch of new people. But I think the best thing to come out of it was my vocal health and technique. 

Lianna Carnell was my teacher at the time and I can’t praise my teacher enough. She was witty, outgoing, reliable, and the most amazing vocalist! She gave me the confidence I needed. If something wasn’t quite right she wouldn’t shy away from telling me – and I kinda needed that. She’d just be like – ‘why don’t we try this, I don’t think it’s working for.. X Y Z’ – that kind of thing. And I really needed that push – the reassurance.

I can’t complain at all, everyone [was] lovely and supportive. Even now I can bump into people and they’re all still here for me which is really nice. It’s nice that you can move on from education but keep that support network. Which usually you wouldn’t get from larger education places, because it’s more formal.  I think there’s an abundance of opportunities outside of college now too, which is really what we all want to be getting out of education! You want the backbone and the theory side, but you always want to explore it literally! And I think that’s really paying off now.

Yes, having a college that’s connected locally is important! It helps bridge the gap between education and experience. On that note, what advice would you give current students starting out in the industry? 

I would just say don’t not do it. Try everything – if someone asks for a favour and it’s related, even in a small way to what you want to do, in music or arts or events, just go and do it. If you don’t enjoy it, at least you’ll have tried it and you can eliminate that thing, but you’ve done a mate a favour and you’ve hopefully had a fun day out, and met new people. 

Try and be an extrovert and meet new people and involve yourself. People aren’t going to come to you – if you want a gig at The Cavern they’re not going to come and find you! You have to go out there and ask – you have to be in there and chattin’ to them, you wanna be meeting all the people that go there, and the musicians that have had experience there.

And don’t be afraid to ask for help as well. There’s no harm in asking! Whether it’s a bit of advice, or if it’s to hop on or shadow someone on a job, or anything… I’ve only ever learnt things through the job, and I’ve only ever got on the job from meeting people. It’s as simple as that really…! Oh, and I’d also recommend anyone starting out to read the book Don’t Get A Job…Make A Job: How To Make It As a Creative Graduate, by Gem Barton. It’s fab!


Right – if you don’t ask, you don’t get!

Yeah yeah totally! I’ve always kind of had that mindset anyway. I’ve always been quite independent and known if I want this i have to go and do this, this and this!  I actually had a really interesting conversation with John Waddell about this, because he’s quite London[-centric] I guess. He really celebrates it and the opportunities there, and he is right, but I also want to be able to…. rather than fit my career into a place, be able to fit my place into my career. It would be really nice to see people in Devon create and have more opportunities for themselves, and now that a pandemic has hit, it’s a good time to jump on that. If you’re out of work then that’s really shit, but what can you do in the meantime? Try and make opportunities for yourself, don’t just sit around and do nothing.


So true! That was my next question actually – what do you make of the current situation, and what advice would you give people in the current climate?

It is hard. It’s difficult because you might not have equipment at home. Places like AMS have got it all and at the moment it’s not accessible, so if you’re fortunate enough to have equipment at home, learn to use it and make the most of it. And just – I don’t know scroll through YouTube, watch tutorials on how to use Logic and Ableton and things like that! But if you don’t, then it could be a really good time to reach out to new people online a bit more, if you’re a writer try and take inspiration from the situation – I bet there’s going to be a bunch of ‘pandemic’ songs that we didn’t realise are about that in 5 years time! 

“I don’t like being in the limelight, I prefer being part of the ‘big thing’ and contributing towards the making of something. I prefer being in the background”

True! The art will reflect the times won’t it…

One hundred percent! And of course at the moment with everything going on with the Arts Industry, it’s all really soul-destroying but at the end of the day, you can’t just dwell on it too much, because we’d all just be sat here crying constantly! And I am definitely someone who can be emotionally affected – it’s had its toll on my mental wellbeing for sure. Being in Lockdown, hearing everything on the news… My goal this year was to have loads of gigs under my belt and become completely self-employed, but that’s all gone! It’s really rubbish, and lots of people aren’t fans of working from home, but we’ve just got to do what we can and make the best of it. 

And yeah, just reaching out to people, spending time working on ourselves is also really important! I’ve been so much better vocally now. I had my first rehearsal since march last night, and I just felt so on form because I’d had the time to work on myself! Whether it’s eating habits, or exercise, or just being out in the fresh air even. I know it sounds so cliche but it really has helped.


Absolutely – just looking after ourselves during these times is super important. 

Yeah, really important. I hope students aren’t too affected by it at the moment – I hope they’ve found a way to work on themselves and take from it – and the tutors – everyone! 


I guess it’s even more important now too for musicians to be able to promote themselves digitally through social media. Now could be a good chance to tighten those skills? 

Yeah I’ve done loads of webinars, about marketing tips or about the music industry as a whole – and no one had the time for that usually! It’s really good that that’s happening, there’s so many – The Roundhouse are doing stuff – loads of places. People should definitely utilise that too, one hundred percent.

One positive thing from all this! What about for you, are there any other roles in music that you’d maybe like to try one day further down the line?

I would love to sharpen up my songwriting skills. I always shyed away from writing songs when I was younger because I was embarrassed and super unconfident, but now I love it! A handful of songs I’ve written are set to be released over the coming months, that’ll all be revealed on my socials. Also I have always had an interest in DJ’ing too! When I was little I’d throw bedroom discos and play a bunch of songs (on CD’s, obvs) that I thought would really bring the house down (Britney Spears is a dancefloor filler, prove me wrong…). Still now I’m obsessed with finding new music, collecting vinyl, discovering samples is so much fun for me – I’m a big fan of Disco and House/Dance music – and sharing feel-good tunes with people. So who knows, maybe I’ll find a way of becoming a vocalist, bassist and DJ live haha, I do love a challenge! 


Sounds amazing! Gotta love some good disco. Any final words of wisdom? 

I just think with stuff like education – the thing is, you can always come back to it. And utilise online education platforms too. I think that a lot of people who have gone to Uni, do have some more opportunities in a way, because they’ve utilised that network and social circle.


And finally, what’s next for you?

So before COVID I actually had a couple of students – I never used to have an interest in it all, but after a few workshops in schools and stuff I really enjoyed it, so I started picking up a few students and teaching them vocals. And recently – last week – I was offered a trainee role as a music leader through Daisi which is an arts charity – that’s Devon based as well.

And I wouldn’t have gotten that if I didn’t have a range of experience, like teaching but also confidence and experience in performing, having a passion for community and an existing network of people – I think that really stood out for them. But yeah, I’m really excited to see how the next year pans out!


Yes, hopefully positive things for 2021!

We can only hope!

Follow Becky on socials for updates:
@BeckyGrinham2 | Facebook | YouTube | Spotify 

Words & Interview: Isobel Trott
Photos: © Rhodri Cooper (2019) + Benjamin Conibear (2020)

eddie van halen interview shaun baxter

Eddie Van Halen in conversation with Shaun Baxter, 1995

Eddie Van Halen, who passed away last week (6 October 2020) was a pioneering and hugely influential rock guitarist. For many he re-invented the rock style and it was never same again. His career was eclectic and powerful, he played the solo on ‘Beat It’ by Michael Jackson and was notable for the techniques he brought to the masses like pinched harmonics, left and right hand tapping, legato (hammer-ons and pull-offs) and fast picking. His flamboyant and exciting style captivated the 80’s scene and his band Van Halen, reached immense heights.

Academy director Shaun Baxter was a teacher at the Guitar Institute in 1995, and had the opportunity to interview his guitar hero for his first ever interview as a journalist, at the Park Lane Hotel in London. What follows is that very conversation. The interview has been edited for this platform – you can download the complete, unabridged transcript here.

On a train to our rendezvous at a hotel in Marble Arch, I couldn’t help wonder what it was going to be like to finally meet Eddie Van Halen.
Van Halen are very powerful these days, having gone from strength to strength over their impressive 15-year career, with the last two albums going straight to the top of the American charts. I entered the foyer of the impressive Park Lane hotel only to wonder how long it would take before I was being carried back out by one of Mr Van Halen’s burly minders after exception had been taken to one of my questions…

I was met by Amanda, Van Halen’s ultra-efficient personal assistant, who ushered me to the interview suite where the photographer and his assistant were setting up. I introduced myself and admitted to being a little nervous as the photographer returned my sweaty palm. I picked up a copy of Metal Hammer from the coffee table and my buttocks clenched tighter at the sight of the recently-bearded, short-haired and totally unrecognisable face of my interviewee staring menacingly out at me from the cover. It was my first ever interview and I couldn’t possibly start any higher up the ladder. Edward Van Halen, easily the most influential rock guitar player since Jimi Hendrix

Just as I was wondering how we were going to cram an interview, a lesson and a photo session with the great man into the space of an hour, he entered. I knew he’d be small, but he was a lot sturdier than I expected. The new beard, which was now trimmed to the chin, and short spiky hair were in direct contrast to the long-haired, clean-shaven and elfin-grinned look I’d always come to associate with the hero of my formative guitar years. 


As we shook hands, I realised that although I’d probably read every interview that Eddie Van Halen had ever done, nothing could have prepared me for his voice. His penchant for cigarettes and alcohol are almost as legendary as his guitar playing, and his broad West Coast accent has been fermented by well over a decade of indulgence to produce a heady brew somewhere between Dennis Leary, Leslie West and Edward G Robinson; however, the most remarkable thing of all was his total lack of pretention. Within minutes, I’d forgotten my earlier worries and, by the time Eddie grabbed his guitar and joined me on the sofa, I had completely relaxed.

I started telling Eddie how at the Guitar Institute, our Rock programme is split into two areas – pre and post Van Halen. Such is the magnitude of his influence. I also told him that a lot of young guitarists today are listening to third-generation Van Halen copyists and yet have never heard any of his earlier albums. Therefore, I wanted to devote the bulk of this interview to the origins and development of his unique style, the influence that he’s had on rock guitar and then bring things right up to date by talking about his new album Balance

To resort to conventional punctuation when transcribing a conversation with Eddie Van Halen would only serve to betray the enormity of his personality. When I listen back to the tape, it’s as though I could be in conversation with a loveable cartoon character. The cadence of Eddie’s voice demands that certain words are written in CAPITALS if you are to get a proper sense, not only of the rise and fall of the sentences, but also the animated way in which he communicates. He does it with patience, enthusiasm and always with good humour.

Full interview here.


One noticeable aspect of Eddie Van Halen’s style, when he first burst on the scene, was that it seemed geared towards catering for a low boredom threshold. Every solo a balanced mixture of new and ear-catching techniques. I asked him how calculated he’d been in putting together a style that was so stunningly different from anyone else:

“It really wasn’t calculated at all. Meaning, I just stumbled onto this shit. I’m telling you man, it’s all a coupla beers and wingin’ it. I’m serious,” he laughed. I told him that most guitarists wanted to emulate their heroes, and yet he sounded different. “Yes, ‘cause I grew up on [Eric] Clapton and ended up not playing like him at all, so it’s weird to me too.”

It seemed one negative aspect to Van Halen’s influence was that a lot of players started producing horribly formulated solos in an effort to dish up the same wide range of musical ingredients. “They used the techniques that I used as a TRICK.” (I understood his use of the word ‘trick’ to mean using a technique more as a cosmetic effect, rather than a vehicle for expression). I agreed and pointed out that, suddenly, players started approaching a solo as though they were baking a cake: “a hand-full of whammy bar histrionics, a touch of tapping and a pinch of harmonics and ‘voila’ a successful solo.” To me, the results always sounded stiff and contrived.

“Exactly! Very stiff!” Whereas he never sounded like that? “No, because I played that way for YEARS before we even had a record out. So like, for ME, it wasn’t a trick. For me, it was just the way I played.”

Obviously, thinking that my use of the word ‘formulated’ was curiously at odds with my profession, Eddie continued, “Yeah, I think the main reason behind that is because [leaning forward, he gives me a reassuring touch on the knee] and I don’t mean to say that you’re part of the problem, but YOU’RE TEACHING THESE PEOPLE.”

I felt like pointing out that actually I was also completely self-taught and I always stress to my students the need to be both expressive
and different, but time was short and, besides, I was too busy laughing. “No-one taught me. I stumbled onto this shit.” He paused. “I guess my point is – and I don’t mean to say [he puts on an important-sounding voice]: ‘Hey, well I’m bitchin’ because I never took a lesson.’ What I mean is NOBODY I knew played guitar. I was very isolated.”

Eddie explained how his original style developed from trying to figure out how people played certain things and, because he didn’t know any better – he discovered his own way of doing them. “If I had something in my head, I would figure out some way to do it. I’d hear Segovia’s stuff and go [whispering]: “No… I can’t fingerpick, so I CHEATED… And it worked [demonstrates pseudo-flamenco beginning to ‘Little Guitars’ from the ‘Diver Down’ album]…. [What with] playing classical piano – you know, doing arpeggios – I’d go like: ‘How can I do that?’ [demonstrates right-hand tapping]… ’Cause I sure as hell couldn’t do it any other way so I had to cheat. You know. I’m actually a good cheater” he laughed.

I assumed then Eddie spent hours and hours experimenting just to explore the potential of each separate technique. Like harmonics? “Yes!…and they just CAME! I just stumbled across those….[he demonstrates fret-tapped harmonics] and I found out later what the ‘correct’ way to do it is. You see people [demonstrates the ‘orthodox’ method of creating artificial harmonics]… Picking them out like that. You know what I mean? I CAN’T DO THAT!”

He couldn’t.

“It’s a fuck! So I just cheat and go…
[demonstrating the Intro to ‘Women in Love’ from Van Halen II]… And it works.”

Not only that, but it sounds different. I put it to Eddie that his celebrated experimentations on guitar were more akin to Avant Garde ‘art’ guitarists, like Fred Frith, who hang paper clips from the strings of the guitar and then beat it with a hammer. “Actually, THAT I do more on piano. I don’t know if you’ve heard the new record?” 

I told him I had and asked him to tell me the story behind the piece in question, Strung Out. “Back in 83/84, my wife and I ran into [Marvin Hamlisch]. We went to rent his beach house and he had this beautiful white Yamaha Baldwin and I, you know, proceeded to cop a buzz and destroyed his piano. For three days in a row, I used forks and knives on the strings and, I don’t know, if you asked me: ‘What possessed you to do that?’ [lowering his voice] I’m fucked if I know. I just felt like playing around. I would hit notes and do harmonics on the strings and stuff and I’d just have a lot of fun doing it… And wasted his piano while doing it.”

“No-one taught me. I stumbled onto this shit. I don’t mean to say ‘Hey, well I’m bitchin’ because I never took a lesson,’ what I mean is NOBODY I knew played guitar. I was very isolated.”

Legend has it that an extremely irate Hamlisch presented Van Halen with a bill for $15,000 upon his return.

“….And then I found out that he was coming back home and I said: ‘Oh Shit! What am I going to do?’ There were cigarette burns on it and everything. You know, I had to buy him a new piano.”   I added that it was probably the piano on which he wrote The Way We Were – the guilt became too exquisite and he threw his head back and laughed out loud.

I reminded Eddie that he’d also trashed a few guitars in his time while subjecting them to the same investigative torture. The fact is that Eddie Van Halen’s creativity and thirst for adventure go far beyond the average guitar player when left to their own devices. He’s always maintained that most of his ideas came as a result of practising while watching television. But I told him that I frequently had problems teaching his stuff to a classroom of unamplified guitarists as a lot of the techniques that he uses are inaudible when the guitar is not plugged into a distorted amp.

“Yeah, for years what I’d do is I’d have a Marshall cabinet with an old Fender Bandmaster [like an old light tweed head] and, on a Fender, if you take the speaker output to the cabinet you get full volume. If you plug it into the external output [whispering] it’s really quiet. It’s no good for the amp. Yeah, you’ll fry the amp after a while, but I used to play for years, you know, we would live in a small house and my mom would go: ‘Why do you have to make that high crying noise?'” he laughed. “The distortion and the characteristics of the amp were EXACTLY like it would be if it was plugged in normally, except it was really quiet – like a Rockman or something –you know what I mean? It was great. All the harmonics and all the shit came out that way. I probably saved myself a lot of hearing by that too.”

“The left is kinda shot,” he said after I asked about his hearing. “When I had it checked to see…at 10k I have the hearing of a seventy year-old.” The photographer and I looked at each other with a mixture of amusement and horror.

I brought up his domination of rock guitar in the ’80s, but was cut off mid-stream. “That sounds so funny,” he retorted, “I just feel like I’m this punk kid. I don’t know what the fuck I’ve done. It’s almost like it’s not me. I really don’t feel like I’ve done Jack shit, because I would love to be someone like Steve Lukather who is a TOP studio musician who can play you anything you ask him to play, whatever you ask him to play. I CAN’T DO THAT. It used to drive me crazy when we used to play clubs and we’d have to learn other people’s songs and it would NEVER sound the way it was supposed to.”

I’d always been curious as to how somebody with such an inquisitive mind and strong creative drive should still claim to be in the dark when it comes to music theory: especially as he’s so enamoured by the playing of people like Allan Holdsworth. Doesn’t he find it restrictive as to what progressions he can function over?’

“Yeah, I CAN’T DO THAT. It’s very confusing to me. I mean, I’ve tried, believe it or not. I took piano lessons from the age of six to twelve and I fooled my teacher. I would play something and it was my EARS… I would REMEMBER. Granted, it was simple stuff, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to fool him, but I never learned to read.”

I told Eddie I was referring more to the way that harmony functions rather than knowing how to read; after all, Allan Holdsworth can’t read. I suggested that the reason that he had never actually got round to learning theory was because he never has to play outside Van Halen. Most musicians, who learn theory, do so in order to be able to function over any chord progression that may be thrown their way when playing with somebody else; whereas, in his case, he only ever has to play over Van Halen’s stuff, so he’d have time to work something out beforehand if he found a passage difficult.

“EXACTLY! I’ve always been in, kinda like, my own little world, so I can do whatever I want,” he chuckled.

So that doesn’t leave him feeling restricted? “WELL, what I’m saying is I wish I COULD DO. I guess I do feel… limited… as a musician. That’s why it’s hard for me to get up on stage and play like say… uh… Branford Marsalis, the sax guy on ‘The Tonight Show’, you know, he’s playing for Sting. He calls me all the time. He wants to JAM! I feel like an IDIOT! I’m scared to death because I CAN’T KEEP UP WITH PEOPLE LIKE THAT.”

I couldn’t help but think all the ‘schooled’ musicians I knew who
were versatile enough to play with most people, but would never make any lasting contribution to music and, yet, whatever he chooses to do in the future, the contributions that a completely self-taught Eddie Van Halen has made to rock guitar will live forever.

“I can only do what I do. You know what I mean? So, in that respect, I wish that, earlier on, that I would’ve learned how to do things in the ‘correct’ way, but, if I HAD done that, I don’t know if I’d be who I am.” I told him that a lot of guys felt the same way about taking lessons. They’re afraid that, by having to view music from a common perspective, they’ll lose their own personal ‘vision’ of what music is, and so loose their identity in the process.

“Yeah, but with me, I didn’t have a choice” He lowered his tone, “meaning it’s too late for me now to be taking lessons. Then I’d feel like a REAL idiot!… ‘Cause, in hindsight, I wish I would’ve, but, at the same time, I don’t know whether I’d have ended up doing the stuff that I’ve done had I take lessons.”

I was starting to think that, in Eddie’s case, he was probably right. If, as he maintains, his uniqueness came, not by design but as a result of having to work things out himself then, presumably, he would have ended up sounding like everybody else had there been someone available to teach him the ‘correct’ way to do things; however, as Eddie had been keen to point out, learning in isolation also has its limitations.

I told him that I’d learned all my theory from books – “Once I’d learned [plays up and down A minor blues scale shape #1] it’s all from there” he said.

I agreed that, for Rock, it was. “Yeah, THAT’S what I play! Every now and then when you make a mistake, hey, it’s a passing note right?”

“It was obvious that Eddie found it farcical to talk about music in these terms. Where I used a scale name, he would use an adjective. He doesn’t recognise a note as a word or number, it’s an intention or an emotion. As with most passions, where the magic seems to be directly proportional to the mystery, Edward Van Halen seems to have sustained his enduring romance with the instrument by refusing to demystify it. To him, music is a purely spiritual thing and so any attempts to quantify or label a ‘feeling’ are seen as both clinically and comically academic.”

Part of the interview was dedicated to a lesson. Click here to read more from Eddie on improvisation, and his relationship with the world of guitar theory.


After being at the top for nearly a decade, the standard of guitar playing shot up as the first wave of copyists emerged offering refried Van Halen at twice the speed and half the style. I was interested as to what was going through Eddie’s mind right then.

“Well, first, when I saw people going like that [whispering, he imitates right-hand tapping action] I’m going, ‘COME ON’. I could just tell that they were doing it like ‘Hey, Mom and Dad, look! I got a new trick’, but I swear it doesn’t bother me at all, because I can see that nobody really UNDERSTOOD.”

At the photographer’s request, Eddie shifts from the sofa to a chair in front of the camera for the shots of his hands.

“In the beginning I guess it bothered me” – I told him that I sensed that he was more competitive then? “NOT competitive, it was more… Because I played like that in the clubs and Richie Blackmore used to come by and these guys from a band called Angel and my brother used to say, “Don’t show them how you’re doing it until we get a record out, you know, so I used to turn around.”

I was amazed. “Yeah, well it really pissed them off, because they tried to cop my stuff before we had a record out.” I wondered if he ever felt pressure once his reputation had grown, at the prospect of having to come up with yet another load of amazing licks, flicks and tricks each time they did an album… “Well, you see, I don’t know, to me, that just comes along with being in a rock band and being the guitarist. In fact, it was more competitive in the club days.”

One of Van Halen’s major strengths was that he seemed to have an innate ability to know what non guitarists would find flash. He was fast, but he never overdid it. His fast licks were never longer than a bar; however, towards the end of the ‘80s, rock guitar playing had become an Olympic sport and it seemed ironic that the one player responsible for spawning a generation of technique-hungry guitarists was going to have to start to play too many notes if he was to compete or lose his crown. On the face of it, it looked as though Van Halen refused to get involved and, instead, stood aside to let the newcomers fight it out while he concentrated on taking the band to greater heights.

“You know it’s really funny, and I don’t know whether you believe me or not” he whispered, “but I’ve never listened to them, I’ve never heard a record by them, you know, NOTHING. Even Steve Vai or… uh… Satriani. The only thing I heard by Satriani is the damned Sony commercial. How does that song go [starting to hum]? …And it’s not because I’m a prick about it, it’s just that, for some reason, I’ve always kinda lived in my own little thing and played with my brother.”

I told him that I was interested to know whether his current shift of emphasis from lead guitar playing to song-writing and solid rhythm parts (a trend never more apparent than on the new album, Balance) was because he’d become tired of competing? “It’s actually always BEEN that though, I’ve always been into writing… trying to do a song.”

I pressed my point and said that ‘Balance’ was the first Van Halen album that hasn’t got a lead guitar break on the opening track. “I guess that comes from in the old days. Alex and I grew up with Cream and it would be one verse and then fucking solo for twenty minutes and the come back and finish the song. We’d play five songs and it would be a two-hour set” [laughs] “You know, we’d just jam.”

From an outsider’s point of view, it seemed like it was from the time that vocalists Sammy Hager joined the band (replacing Dave Lee Roth) that they started to focus on a more general market (a market that they wanted to cater for and Dave Lee Roth didn’t).

“It wasn’t a matter of catering. It was more a matter of… I play keyboards and I’d written ‘Jump’ an album or two before it was allowed to be on the record and I’m going, ‘Hey, fuck this shit! It’s another instrument I play’. He’s going [impersonating Roth]: ‘Hey, nobody wants to see you play keyboards’. That was Roth’s trip. He was adamant about it. In fact, I built my own studio. I said, ‘Fuck you!’ and [beaming with delight] he quit.”

“I don’t care if people consider me to be a guitar hero or whatever, if I play TUBA well, and I write a song, I’m going fuckin’ play it. ‘Jump’ was the first song that we recorded in my studio ‘cause I’m going ‘I like the song.’  It wasn’t like I changed my thing; it was that, finally, he couldn’t stop me anymore, you know, and when Sammy joined the band, I was free to do what I wanted. I didn’t have anyone saying, ‘No, you can’t do that.’”

I asked Eddie what his thoughts were when, having left Van Halen, Dave Lee Roth unveiled Steve Vai. “I’m going: ‘this guy is better at what I do than I AM’, you know, but [whispering] he lacked the vibe… the feel. He was technically VERY proficient, but stiff. It always made me feel bad in a way, because it made me feel like, ‘Wow, is that how people perceive ME?’, ‘cause, to me, listening to him it didn’t SOUND like me, but he took my chops, so to speak, and made them very robotic… and did them twice as fast.”

I pointed to the sentence in my pre interview notes that read, “…offering refried Van Halen at twice the speed but half the class of the original”. “Yeah! Yeah! It didn’t seem natural, the way THEY did it.” I remarked that, today, a lot of players sound as though all their solos are written down. “Well, [Vai] used to transcribe my stuff for magazines. That’s how, I guess, he started learning it.”



Recently I’d read Eddie saying that he was becoming “more bluesy and traditional” in his guitar playing. In fact, he’d gone as far as to confess to feeling slightly embarrassed for being associated with techniques such as right-hand tapping. I was curious as to why he would want to move away from the very thing(s) that had set him aside from the competition in the first place and made him a star? “I guess because there isn’t a whole lotta sillier shit you can do with the guitar. What else can you DO? At the same time, I guess I don’t want to have to keep coming up with tricks in order to be respected as a player.” He continued, “I pull out the tricks – if you want to call them that – all the time.”

I wondered how much Eddie was interested in keeping up with new developments and trends in guitar playing. I remarked that I’d noticed that he doesn’t seem to sweep pick much. What did he think of it as a technique? “What does THAT sound like? Like Country?” Reluctantly, I quickly showed him how some players use it with arpeggios. “That sounds more like an Yngwie thing.” I agreed and said that it was also associated with players like Frank Gambale.

“Who?” I told Eddie that he was a fusion player and showed how he applied the technique to scales. “So THAT’S how they do it so fucking fast!” The photographer and his assistant started laughing– so does Eddie.

“WELL, I DON’T KNOW! I’ve heard stuff where people are kinda just goin’ [gestures with his hands on the guitar in time with his voice], “RAAGROO! RAAGROO!… and I’m going, ‘What the fuck?… I ain’t playing like that’. See, to me, I’m TOO OLD to start taking lessons and figure that shit out. It’s just for years that I’ve been doin’ my own thing, you know, and I’m quite happy doing it.”

It was another testimony to Eddie’s modesty and TOTAL lack of pretention that we were able to talk like this without him getting the least bit defensive. He doesn’t seem to entertain ANY competitive thoughts, but then why should he? He’s got nothing to prove. “Yeah! I was NEVER out to prove anything in the first place. You know? To me music isn’t a competitive thing. It’s very personal, It’s ME, it’s MY emotions, MY vibe and NOBODY can copy that.”

Eddie Van Halen is an incredible paradox. I’ve never met a player who’s less competitive and, yet, no one is more responsible for making guitar playing more competitive than him. The legacy, it seems, is completely at odds with the man.  “But it’s ALWAYS guitarists! What’s the fuckin’ deal? I don’t get it.”

I told him that it was because they are all influenced by him. He changed it. “Yeah, but I’M not like that,” he laughed. “See that’s the WHOLE POINT. They missed the WHOLE DAMN POINT. It’s not about who’s FASTER or BETTER or whatever. It’s what’s INSIDE of you. What makes YOU want to play guitar, you know? Do you want GIRLS? What do you WANT? I did it because I’ve got nothing better to do, you know, and I LOVE DOING IT. It’s something that nobody can take away. It’s a way to express myself ‘cause I’m actually kind of a SHY, QUIET GUY, believe it or not, and it was a way for me to express myself.”

The photographer asked Eddie to get into position for the main cover shot. I started opening another cassette. In the background I can hear Eddie practising his sweeps (Raagroo, Raagroo), he calls over to me: “I couldn’t THINK that fast!”

“If you play rock guitar, you are influenced by Eddie Van Halen.  His earlier works will need no introduction, but if you’ve only ever listened to guys playing pale imitations of what Van Halen was doing 16 years ago, why settle for second best when you can listen to the real thing?”

He had me laughing again. I found it amazing to think that Eddie seemed to have remained so cocooned from other guitarists. For some reason I’d imagined that he would have his ear to the ground for new developments in guitar. Instead, I learned that he’s
content to continue as he is. In fact, being around somebody of Eddie’s stature and modesty was starting to make me feel guilty for ever having entertained any competitive thoughts as a guitarist, but the truth is that most guitarists have to be competitive in order to get anywhere near the standard that Eddie has set, furthermore, the music business is fiercely competitive for any young guitarist and only a few survive. If we were all as free and easy as Eddie, we’d probably still be in our bedrooms strumming a few open chords.

Amanda reappeared. She stood there and pointed at her watch as the cameraman took the final few shots. Eddie talked to me throughout (unwittingly frustrating the photographer by not looking into the camera).

Just before he left, I handed Eddie a copy of my CD (Jazz Metal) and assured him that I sounded as much like him as he did to his hero, Eric Clapton… “Yeah, Cool! I might have to steal some chops,” he laughed.

I told him I’d felt a bit nervous before meeting him, but now realised that I needn’t have been. “Oh shit no! I’m just an old fuckin’ Joe, you know. Yeah, I find it really amusing, it’s like you find some guys are just COMPLETE pricks and it’s like, ‘Hey buddy! All you do is play the GUITAR’, you know what I mean?”

As I was leaving, I met bassist Mike Anthony in the doorway. We chatted and, like Eddie, I couldn’t help but think what a friendly and unaffected guy he was. In producing two successful players who seem so at ease with themselves, the close-knit environment of Van Halen seems to have produced a true rarity.

If you play rock guitar, you are influenced by Edward Van Halen. If you are influenced directly, Eddie’s earlier works will need no introduction; however, if you’ve only ever listened to guys playing pale imitations of what Edward Van Halen was doing 16 years ago, why settle for second best when you can listen to the real thing? 

The king is Ed. Long live the king.

Words: Shaun Baxter, 1995. 

Shaun is director at the Academy of Music and Sound and a self-described huge fan of Eddie Van Halen. 

Read more from the AMS blog here.

karlyn king academic many hats blog scottish women inventing music

Many Hats with Karlyn King, pop music academic & lecturer

Welcome back to Many Hats. Round three of our blog series features the immensely knowledgeable and all-round pop music guru Karlyn King. Whilst also being a performing artist, Karlyn is a lecturer here at AMS, and a dedicated music academic and researcher in her own right. Currently working towards her PhD in popular music, her specialism lies in Vinyl and Record culture, making her the go-to voice on everything rock and pop music related.

Why ‘Many Hats’ you ask? Well, we thought it fitting as it was a term that cropped up in almost every interview we did for the project. People working in the biz we call music often adopt ‘many hats’ during their careers, balancing and trying out a range of jobs and skills whilst also crafting their passion – we think that’s fab and totally under-appreciated in the wider world of work!

In today’s competitive world, it’s vital to have a range of skills under your belt.  Academia is a popular option for many musicians, and can open up a whole set of new opportunities! Especially in today’s crazy world.  Keep reading to find out exactly how and why Karlyn King’s passion for music led her down the research path, and get some tips along the way…

Thank you for joining us for our career blog series! Can you introduce yourself and what you do? 

I’m a freelance popular music academic and researcher, my current role involves mainly lecturing, teaching, assessing and curriculum and course design, across various independent music colleges and universities. I have a specialism in genre and culture, artist development, PR and vinyl record culture as well. I mainly roll that out from diploma level right up to Masters level.


Cool, and you’re currently doing a PhD is that right?

Yeah, that’s right! So I’m getting into the final hurdle of my PhD now… It focuses on vinyl records culture, in terms of how it went away and came back and why that is. I’m asking questions like, “How do we consume music?”, “How do we purchase and put a value on records over things like streaming and tapes?”

Interesting! So, what’s the best thing about working in the music industry? 

I would say – and it’s not an easy gig that’s for sure – but finding stuff that you love, whether it’s an artist, track, performance, some sort of meaning behind music… Finding something that really resonates with you and has meaning for you individually, is definitely the best part. 

And that can be something from way back! Some of the stuff I teach is about the 60s and 70s and the evolution of rock and roll for instance, and there’s things within that that people have never thought about, in terms of how we look at music now. So yeah, looking at how it all links together, and discovering brand new artists that are doing something new and interesting and that has a really good message for today. 

How did your music degree help you get to where you are today?

For this type of job, having a degree and postgraduate education is really, really vital. I actually did a Masters in Music and that helped me by giving me a real focus in terms of realising that this is the industry I want to be in, so you commit to it full time! 

But also the network you make – and I would say that is true of any music course – the people on your course, your peers, classmates, they’re your best asset.  I still communicate with my Masters class now and again in terms of opportunities and research, asking them if they can tell me about this-and-that. We still help each other out now! Forming a network in your class is vital at any level!


And what did you study before a Masters? 

So my honours and Undergraduate degree was actually in psychology! But all the time I was doing that I was playing in bands, even the night before my finals I was out playing gigs in Glasgow [laughs] – probably quite naughty, but yeah I always knew that was what I wanted to be doing more than anything. I was really interested in psychology, but it wasn’t the path for me. 


Do you think your degree in psychology has helped in your career today? 

Oh definitely. In terms of my PhD stuff, and also looking at genre and culture, I do like to look at it from quite a psychological angle. And Music Psychology is such a large area of research now, it’s a really interesting developing area, so I definitely try to bring that into what I study and teach now.

What experience did you need in order for you to do your current job?

They will always, always ask for some sort of level of degree study, so that was essential. Whether that’s a Masters, or more commonly now PhDs. 

Another pretty big factor is actually knowing people that can get you a foot in the door.  It was literally by chance that I got my foot in the door through someone that I know who needed a lecturer on a module, because the person who was doing it had decided to move to Berlin! Knowing people who make the decisions on who gets to teach on what, and having the academic background to back it up is really important.


What advice would you give current students or graduates wanting to get into your line of work?

Definitely stick with your studying, even if there’s modules that you’re not that interested in, you still have to do them, you still have to engage and try to do well. You might not use them afterwards, but make sure that you stick with it and you get the most out of it, because it will help you further down the line. 

The reality is you need to have so many strings to your bow now that it’s no longer a straight-forward, ‘oh i’m going to be a singer, and that’s what I’ll do til I die’, it’s not like that anymore. So you need to be able to do all aspects of the music industry, and all the things that it demands. So my advice would be to get as many things under your belt as possible, and just engage with as much as you can!


What’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Something that’s really stuck with me is from waaay back… I was actually doing my Highers in Scotland at the time, and one of my lecturers told me simply that, “there is nothing to be scared of”. He was actually a psychology lecturer, and he said being scared is just something we create, it’s an illusion, that goes all the way back to biology and our survival instincts. 

He said never be afraid to put yourself out there and take risks – and I definitely did that when I switched from an undergrad in psychology to a masters in music! It’s not really a common thing and it was a big step. But yeah, I was able to take that risk and it paid off! So definitely take risks and don’t be scared. 


What’s your favourite aspect of your job?

I think I enjoy working with the students the most, and the students getting something out of my teaching is always great. I had a hilarious bit of feedback last year from some students saying, thanks for introducing us to the music of Rage Against the Machine! [laughs] We were looking at the evolution of Rock music and they really enjoyed that, and that’s a band that they’re really super fans of now, who got this new resonance now in this world we live in.

So yeah, introducing them to things that could be life-changing in some ways, and getting them to rethink music and see it in a different way is really enjoyable!

And how about the most challenging?

The most challenging aspect is sometimes if students just aren’t that engaged or can’t see the value in what they’re doing, and they maybe just don’t have that initial passion for it, that’s difficult because you can only do so much in that case. 

For some people it’s just not for them, they’ll do a course and they’ll realise that actually, they don’t want anything to do with music – and that’s fine, but it’s always a bit of a tough nut to crack in terms of what’s holding them back – is it just fear or lack of confidence, or are they genuinely just not interested?  That’s always challenging, but once you get to the root of it, yeah you can work with it.


What advice would you give to those working in the industry today, with all the changes and challenges the pandemic has brought about? 

Now more than ever, we need people who can do everything [laughs]! We need people who are willing to act at the drop of a hat to do different types of roles and take on different responsibilities. You might have your heart set on being a songwriter, which is great, but actually in terms of surviving, you might also need to look at production, and PR and teaching and all different aspects. 

Definitely being adaptable and being an innovator as well is a huge benefit. We’ve seen some really interesting innovations in terms of how artists have adapted and reacted to the COVID situation – they’ve done things like live-streams, specialised merchandise, and even writing about the situation and putting into the actual content of their art is really interesting – and using technology in ways that maybe we didn’t before. Being able to think outside the box and adapt and be open to it, I think is vital for today!

Find out more about Karlyn King and her experience on her website and on socials: Twitter.

Words: Isobel Trott
Interview: Alyssa Renwick
Photos: © Karlyn King / SWIM

More Many Hats…

Read our first feature with SAMA’s Richy Muirhead here, and last week’s edition with Melisa Kelly.

edinburgh hnc music fast track free scotland short courses online dates announced summer exeter study music degrees ams

Need experience fast? Our fast-track HNC gets you a qualification in just 7 months!

Want to stand out from the crowd? It’s not too late – find your edge and get a cut above the rest with our fast-track degree scheme in Edinburgh, and get a HNC in music in just 7 months! 

So many of us have lost out on gigs and opportunities this year, and while things are difficult, a music qualification might just be the edge you need to stand out when we come out the other side!

Musicians after something a little different from a music qualification look no further than our fast-track HNC scheme.  The partially SAAS funded HNC in Music (with AMS Edinburgh) is specifically designed to help musicians get ahead and give them an edge in a competitive industry, and could be the perfect opportunity for those musicians feeling a little lost this year. 

Through our fast-track scheme you can get a qualification in just 7 months, fast-tracking your way to the start of a HND starting in Autumn 2021 – your ticket to getting a full degree in just one third of the time.

With the sector facing some of its biggest ever challenges, this might just be the ideal time to expand your skill set, and develop your expertise. Because if not now… When?

Our entry-reqs are different too!

We understand everyone has different life experiences. At the Academy of Music and Sound, we look to recognizse potential and welcome everyone from different backgrounds. As such, if you do not have a Higher English or Music we will still accept your application and process.

If your application is accepted you will be asked to perform and speak to one of our members of staff during an interview and audition. Providing you are well-rehearsed and are passionately invested in your own learning and improvement you could very well be part of our musical community.

Our approach is different to many other educators – we will continue to have an open approach and increased inclusivity to our courses. If you’re talented and passionate about what you do, then you deserve to be recognised.



About the HNC in Music

The fast-track HNC is a 7 month course starting on 4 January 2021 right through to 6 August 2021.  

The HNC in music is designed by musicians, for musicians, and features modules such as Music Business, Recording Techniques, Music Theory, History and Stagecraft. 


HNC Course Details:


Start date: 4 January 2021
End Date: 6 August 2021

Units of study: 

Music First Study: Instrument
Music Theory
Music Business
Music History
Music: Live Performance
Music: Stagecraft for Musicians
Music: Organising a Community-based Musical Activity
Music: Songwriting
Music: Recording Techniques
Graded Unit 1 


About the Academy of Music & Sound Edinburgh

As an independent and dynamic academy, we cover everything from contemporary rock and pop instruments, to composition, songwriting and back again. Oh… And did we mention we started the first Scottish hip-hop and rap pathway?

Over the years AMS has welcomed over 5000 students onto courses in popular music, production and music business courses over the years. In July 2019 we celebrated 25 years in music education – always changing and adapting to keep in-step with changes in the modern music industry, we’ve proudly established ourselves as leaders in independent music education. 

AMS alumni not only go on to become highly successful musicians but also educators, promoters, and even music therapists. We can help you explore the careers that best interests you.


Safety first…

It’s not been an easy year, thankfully we’ve adapted swiftly. This term, we’re minimising class sizes & contact time and we’ve gained more space for teaching at our centres.  Adapting courses thoroughly for online delivery, and because we’re an intimate & independent college, able to offer dedicated online one-on-one and live group sessions to all students.


Get yourself to an online open day….

Saturday November 7th & Saturday December 5th. 

Book now!

Listen to new music on the AMS Scotland October playlist!

What a month for releases! You can listen to our October Spotify playlist featuring some of the very best ones, right now...

Summer is gone and autumn is officially here. See in the changing of seasons with our perfect little playlist. Curated by our amazing team at AMS Glasgow, the tracks are packed with new and fresh releases that prove that no-one can stop culture, not even during a pandemic!

Featuring loads of former students and teaching staff at the Academy including, Gordon Robertson - Music, Nicky Murray, Lizzie ReidGeorgia CécileClothThe Black DenimsRuby GainesZoe GrahamMelisa Kelly and the Smokin' CrowsLucia & The Best BoysAnchor Lane (a cheeky cover there) Rachelle Rhienne and finally KLEOPATRA – it's enough to make you want to stay home, snug and cosy, with some bangin' tunes.

Phew – I think that's just about enough for this cold October day! Dive in and listen now via the player below.

Listen to our Lockdown playlist here, and see more from AMS Scotland on their Facebook page.


More about AMS Glasgow

The districts across Glasgow have their own unique personalities and hidden gems, from their ever-evolving food and drink scene to the iconic architecture. It boasts more than 700 bars, pubs and nightclubs and 7 cinemas. The music capital of Scotland, Glasgow is a recognised UNESCO City of Music. Paired with its unrivaled cutting-edge art scene Glasgow, has an abundance of expression and creativity.

Online learning: Since March we’ve swapped the studio for home and come September we’re confident we’ll be in a great position to offer flexible, online learning to students should we need to. We’re also spreading out, finding new spaces for learning so classrooms can be bigger and class sizes smaller. We were quick to adapt to the changes back in the Spring, and received some hugely positive feedback from our students.


ams christmas christmas songs xmas

Christmas songs needed for the AMS virtual advent calendar!

We all love a good Christmas song. And we know it’s a little early to be thinking about the C-word, but we’ve got something quite exciting in the works….

We’re planning something a little different for our online advent calendar this year, and we want YOU to get involved! We’re calling for AMS students, alumni and staff from every centre, including AMSonline, to submit Christmas songs to us (either originals or covers) for unveiling over ’12 days of Christmas’ throughout December.

There’s 12 slots available so send us your tracks now for a chance to be featured!

Ideally, we’ve love some video content submissions, but if you don’t fancy showing your face, that’s absolutely fine, you can also send us an audio recording of your track for consideration. 

Tracks can be either re-worked covers of existing Christmas songs, or your own original material! If can you, aim for the track to be between 2 and 3 minutes long. 

Please send entries via email to our social media manager Isobel: [email protected] 

Or you can message us on any of our (main UK) social channels: @ams_uk | Facebook | Twitter 

We can’t wait to hear from you!


richy muirhead scottish alternative music awards samas interview

Many Hats with Richy Muirhead, Creative Director & founder of SAMAs

Welcome to “Many Hats”! Our career blog series that explores the various tricks and trades of the music industry. First up, we had to chance to chat to Richy Muirhead, Creative Director and Founder of the Scottish Alternative Music Awards – or SAMAs as you might know it – for a the low down on how he’s crafted his career, how a music education has helped him along the way, and the ‘many hats’ he’s adorned over the years.

SAMAs has been supporting underground Scottish music talent for a number of years now, including the likes of an up-and-coming Lewis Capaldi, with its 2019 edition even awarding some of our own talented students! But it’s not been a clear-cut path for its founder, with a varied career under his belt, Richy reflects on how he’s got to where he is today.

Why ‘Many Hats’ you ask? Well, we thought it fitting because it was a term that cropped up in almost every interview we did for the project. People working in the biz we call music often adopt ‘many hats’ during their careers, balancing and trying out a range of jobs and skills whilst also crafting their passion – we think that’s fab and totally under-appreciated in the wider world of work! There’s so much to be gained from a career in music. But don’t let us do all the talking…

Hey Richy! Can you tell us a bit about the organisations you work with, and what your role involves?

Currently I am Creative Director of the Scottish Alternative Music Awards and an Advisory Board Member for the Scottish Music Industry Association. The SAMAs are an annual music awards based here in Scotland. We celebrate multiple genres like hip hop and rock, plus live and newcomer categories. It’s always a diverse shortlist of artists featured and we work with a range of creative organisations – from Creative Scotland to Academy of Music & Sound and Drygate Brewery. The whole purpose is to identify artists that do amazing work and shouting about that through events, social media and marketing. We also host events with Liverpool Sound City and we have our own music festival in Paisley – a two day music bash and really good fun!

Some award winning artists you might be familiar with from SAMAs include Lewis Capaldi through to The Ninth Wave, Be Charlotte, The Dunts, VanIves and many more. This year we’re moving into the virtual space which is going to be interesting! It’s an opportunity to attract a larger audience – a global audience – and we’re working with some great partners to make sure it’s delivered to a high standard. It’s a chance to learn about different genres bubbling in Scotland, a little bit about what’s going on up north, and to embrace a new challenge.


What is day-to-day work like at the moment?

Day-to-day I typically look after the majority of things! Because it’s all virtual at the moment, it’s a lot of meeting with partners via Zoom/Teams and ensuring our social media campaign is in place and going to be effective, as well as looking at new issues that could arise because of corona. 

We’re planning stuff for next March and it involves a lot of careful monitoring of what’s happening right now and how to mitigate possible risks. It’s also about making sure the event is as strong as it can be. So, talking to people in the industry to get feedback and generate some ideas that might separate SAMAs from other music awards and develop its identity and tone. Yeah, there’s a lot going on! And it’ll be so nice to get back into venues, begin recording and work with a large team again. We’ve been having so many great conversations with people, even in the current climate, but it’s still relatively lonely on the ground! Usually the role involves socialising, going to gigs, checking out new music and so on.

Great! So loads of responsibility then. When did you first launch SAMAs? It must have been an exciting new challenge!

When I was in education, about 11 years ago now – I’m getting old! [laughs] – I went to the MTV Music Awards in Berlin. I was lucky enough to be invited in some way or another and came back feeling really motivated and inspired about how great it was that music could bring people together from different backgrounds and cultures. I had to do a creative module in university, so I decided to create a national music award! A lot of people laughed at the time, and I completely understand why. We started things slowly, we worked it into the module, with outcomes, a lot of bullet points… And gradually we improved it every year. I started hosting other events and grew confidence, learnt who our audience were and developed it ever since!

Many artists are celebrated at the SAMAs and it gives them that platform and boost of confidence to grow. Whether that’s touring nationally or locally, collaborating with other artists or reaching new listeners, there’s that sense of achievement or award and community offered by being involved in SAMAs that I’m so proud of. I think I landed quite lucky with that university project!


Amazing! Has it always been a full time role?

I’d say in the last 4 years it’s really started to become full time which is nice. In the past I was juggling all sorts. As someone who currently works freelance across the music and events world, I do still find myself wearing a range of different hats and offering your skills to do a range of different things. And that’s a really important thing to be able to work with other groups of people and share skill sets – to learn from other people and teach others.

Recently I’ve worked on a  project with BBC Scotland producing content which was really good fun, but mainly the focus has been on SAMAs and it’s been fun and challenging to turn that into a full time job. Because for that we had to grow, so we had to think about showcasing outside of Scotland and hosting events we hadn’t done before, being ambitious with funding, and just upping our game that little bit every year – so far so good! Hopefully we can continue growing and hopefully when it’s safe, we can return to live events, because that’s really where we thrive!


One of my questions was going to be ‘what experience did you need to get the role you’re in now?’ – I guess you crafted your own experience as you grew SAMAs rather than go through the usual interview process?

Yeah, exactly. When I was in education we were always encouraged to try new stuff and given time where we were allowed to make mistakes and be adventurous.  The module project was a big part of how I began to hone my experience. But I also began to run smaller club nights, so I was learning the basics of how to run an event and what people’s expectations were  (from artists to the public) and getting an understanding of the various aspects of what needs to come together for an event – from ticketing, to what catering is needed for events and what a technical rider is.

Some things I enjoyed, other things I didn’t perhaps love so much. I learnt pretty early that I’d have to hire people who can do [the stuff I didn’t understand]. Things like web design are essential for marketing an event but I’d need someone to create it in the beginning and do all the technical stuff. But having the time and freedom during education to try stuff, and take internships when I could afford to, that was really important. 


What is the most rewarding aspect of your job – or working in the music industry?

I really enjoy the fact that everyday, listening to music is such a big part of the job. Whether that’s programming or curating an event, having to listen to a playlist – I could do that from here, I could do it on a train, out running or cycling – there’s no limitations. Always being immersed in listening to music is my favourite thing about the role.

Obviously, when we put on events there’s that extra wow-factor and it’s a memory and a really good moment for a lot of people. For me, how I like to operate being self employed and organising my hours and when I want to do things, choosing who we work with and how we do things, I really enjoy that responsibility. Plus the amount of streaming via Soundcloud and Spotify is outrageous! And it’s great when people send me music, I always try to get back to people – they don’t always expect it [laughs] so it’s always nice feedback! 

What was the most challenging bit of starting out in the industry?

It was – and still is sometimes – a lot of self doubt. Sometimes I don’t put enough value on what I do and I kinda imagine that other people think what I do is terrible – but it’s all just in my head! I think you can overthink things and that was one of the hardest barriers to overcome. It still can be! What I do tend to find is that when one door closes another one opens and more opportunities will come. But when you’re starting out you have to really go that extra mile, so it’s tough. And if you start to lose those skill sets doors can start to close as well, so if you want a career in music I think you really have to commit yourself, embrace it, go to events…

With many events moving into the digital space, now is a great time to visit other international events. Last week I went to Tallin Music Week virtually, which was cool! With events online they’re easier to attend and often cheaper. Plus the amount of people you can meet in a Zoom chat box is pretty cool! And if you’ve got a clear idea of what you want to be doing, you can spark up a connection pretty quick. There are opportunities, and it’s very difficult at the moment, however it’s always been difficult, it’s always been about your attitude and skill set and finding out exactly what you want to be doing.


Tell us a little more about your music education – what made you want to pursue a music degree? What did you learn?

Music was always part of me and my family, it was always on in the house so from an early age it was always what I wanted to do in some way. My parents weren’t fully committed to that – they wanted me to do something a bit more ‘secure’ maybe. However I wanted to really give it a bash. Going into education and having the opportunities from learning and meeting people in class who were like-minded, and then applying for voluntary internships allowed me to grow though that. 

And I even ended up wanting to study more! So I went from a HND in Sound Production, through to a BA in Commercial Music, which was more of an open book. You could decide if you wanted to work in the industry or if you wanted to be a performer. By that time I’d kinda figured out I wasn’t that great as a music player, so events were where I began to really find my feet.

Then there was a new Masters coming out about music entrepreneurship, so I wanted to jump on that. At that point it was great because there was more business development and more chance to look a bit more 360 at what you do instead of project to project. It was great to spend a year immersed in that working with some amazing people in the classroom and the lecturers too. I think there was a lot of important education, and it was so vital for  me to be doing what I was doing, but I was also very lucky to have gone to that music event in Germany. I realised how special it could be if a music award was delivered well, and had the right mentality.

So there was a lot of luck, and there always has to be luck, but there was a lot of patience too while going through education, when a lot of my friends had jobs and were earning a lot more than me and I was working part time in bars and so on… But if you want the career you’ll find a way to make it work. It taught me a lot of great skills and helped me find the opportunities I needed to get me to where I am today.

What advice do you have to give current music students, or those just starting out in the industry? 

I think my advice has to change a little now because of corona. I think there’s some generally essential skill sets that are gonna be here for a long time, stuff like social media and digital marketing, which don’t on the outside sound like ‘music jobs’, however they absolutely are! Whether it’s for a creative law firm that needs music for campaigns, or musicians and artists who need this support. So my advice would be to look at the current situation, think about which skill sets you can bring to the party and what could you begin to learn that could increase your visibility and increase your skill set. There’s  a load of digital tools out there for you to learn from. 

And if it’s events that you really want to get into, head along to stuff like Focus Wales, Wide Days, Resonate, Tallin Music Week, because you never know who you’re going to bump into in the chat box and it might just open up some opportunities. We’re now in a world where we can work from home, it’s certainly a lot more acceptable than it was 12 months ago, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it if you can be disciplined and still deliver your work to a high level. A lot of the businesses in the creative industry have a much more lenient approach. But it all comes back to reliability and being able to deliver on the goods, you need to be the real deal I think! 


Great advice! Now finally, what’s the most valuable piece of advice you’ve received during your career?

Not sure if I have one specific piece of advice… But I think the importance of building networks and relationships is something that’s stayed with me. Someone who supports what you do, whether it’s a peer, or a sponsor or another artist, you can build a relationship and pat each other on the back and watch each other grow. I think that’s a really good thing and a way to get ongoing advice and lift each other up.

There are people and organisations who have been involved in the SAMA’s from the beginning and share the same passion, and that is something really special!  And we’ve worked with some great, dedicated partners along the way.  That respect goes a long way and gives you the confidence that you can really deliver. It fights away that imposter syndrome. I think everyone has a sense of that in one small shape or another… And that’s definitely heightened by social media mentality too. In truth, it’s all totally fine, just get on with it! [laughs].

SAMAs will take place virtually this year.
Check out the festival on their socials for updates:
@officialsamas | Facebook | Twitter 

Words: Isobel Trott
Photos: © SAMAs 2019.

women in music free online short course

"Women in Music" The online course challenging inequality in music

According to ‘Counting the Music Industry‘, a study conducted by Vick Bain published recently in Music Week,  just over 14% of writers currently signed to publishers and just under 20% of  acts signed to labels are female. This large gap is indicative of widespread discrimination against women in the music industry – and a very real problem.  A similar study conducted by Women In Ctrl found that just 19% of female songwriters are among the top 100 played songs on the radio in 2020*, while female producers make up just 3% of this.

Bain, former BASCA CEO now freelance music industry consultant and director of the board of Parents & Carers in Performing Arts (PiPA), hopes her study will be a “wake up call” for the industry. Her experience on on the UK Music board, the UK Music Research Group and the UK Music Rights Committee, as well as the UK Music Diversity Taskforce, has cultivated her expertise and passion for equality in the sector and is one of many women in the industry today fighting for a greater sense of equal opportunity.

Empowerment and Employability

Our short course (taking place over 2 weekends, 3-11 October) will be led by two formidable women in music and AMS colleagues, Melisa Kelly and Karlyn King, and is aimed at female identifying students and women in the industry. While laying bare these deep-rooted problems, the class sets out to be an empowering experience that will provide women in music with the tools and knowledge of gender dynamics in the industry, and hopefully inspire an upcoming generation will the vision to create a more balanced sector.

From feedback of Women In Music courses been-and-gone, we found that one of the most important and valuable things students took away from class was the incredible sense of community and support found within the class – even though it was delivered online for the first time this summer! It was a great chance for students to network and connect with other women in the industry and develop a solid sense of community and uplift.

Throughout the week-long course, attendees will cover everything from getting a background of gender and representation in the industry, to creative CV and mock interview skills, an introduction into music management, and a songwriting/performance masterclass. Day 1 and 3 will be hosted by Karlyn, while day 2 and 4 is to be hosted by Melisa. Take a look below for a day to day outline of the course.

There’s certainly a long way to go before equal representation and opportunity is achieved. These gaps are of course far more prevalent for women of colour and other marginalised groups in the industry too. While opportunities for women in music are much more varied and appreciated than they used to be, it’s still a long road ahead. As a male dominated sector, feeling empowered and valued as a woman within it is a vital step to changing the status-quo. Our WIM short course not only aims to share knowledge of the gender gaps and disparities in music, but to empower and build a sense of community between female and female-identifying producers and creatives.

Women In Music Short Course: 3-11 October

The course will take place over two Weekends, starting on October 3rd and ending on October 11th.

Day 1:  We will cover why the course is necessary and start to  reflect on what valuable skills and experience we already have and want to gain.

Day 2: Refine your creative CV and mock interview skills.

Day 3: Learn how to deal with challenging work situations and get an introduction to music management.

Day 4: Songwriting and performance masterclass with Melisa Kelly (professional singer and songwriter and academic).

You will gain info on what other areas there are available to work in music, and how to gain access to them whether its performance or business, writing – how to monetize is a big focus.



Check out some of Melisa Kelly and Karlyn King’s work…

Melisa is a successful performing artist and music tutor, perhaps best known for her leading role in the group, Melisa Kelly and the Smokin’ Crows.

Karlyn is a prolific academic, who specialised in music business and the vinyl record industry.

tedxyouth ted talk ted talks gandy street exeter

TEDxYouth Virtual Conference at Exeter Gandy Street

TEDxYouth at Gandy Street is a virtual conference coming to Exeter on the 21st of November. They are looking for young student speakers like yourselves to speak up about what important issues matter to you. 

TEDxYouth is independently organised event, promising a program of local, self-organised events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TED Talks video and live virtual speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. A great opportunity to share and spread knowledge!

This inaugural theme is set to cover "Bridging the Gap", and the conference aims to "create a sustainable and collaborative future for future generations." In a statement the team behind the event said; "we are passionate about providing a platform to inspire the generations to come."

They also invited young people to apply to speak about topics they are passionate about, be it science, politics, sustainability and even music! Applications closed on 14 September.

Watch this space for more details about the event! In the meantime, ahead to the TED official website for more info.

More about TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized (subject to certain rules and regulations).

More AMS news here.



michael rennie bring me the horizon yungblud drummer interview marshall records drums alumni news

Meet alumni Michael Rennie, smashing it as Yungblud's drummer!

AMS Alumni Michael Rennie has been killing it drumming for hugely successful hip-hop-punk-pop infused artist YUNGBLUD. Read more about their recent collaboration with Bring Me The Horizon, and an interview with our very own Michael….

Michael Rennie has been smashing it on the drums for YUNGBLUD for a while now. And things are going pretty well – having just collaborated with British rock group Bring Me The Horizon on a killer new track ‘Obey’, there’s bound to be exciting stuff on the ‘horizon’ for Rennie and YUNGBLUD.

Check out the track in the player below, and scroll down to read a great little interview with Rennie originally published on the official Marshall website! The music video features some epic CGI animation of a cyber-robot having a stomp, and has over 4 million hits! Keep on shredding Michael.


This article was originally published 28 March 2019 on


In the midst of Yungblud’s biggest tour to date we managed to grab a few minutes with drummer Michael Rennie to talk techniques, tips and touring.


What encouraged you to learn drums?

Originally when I was about 8 years old I used to play keyboards and hated it! My dad was a drummer when he was younger, and for his 40th birthday he got a drumkit at the same time I was slacking off at the keyboards so he suggested I give the drums a go. It came really naturally to me, so I played in high school and did a bunch of classes. From there I didn’t really know where I was going with it until a mate suggested I try a music college and everything just spiralled from there.


What’s your practice routine?

Most of the time I just try and get in the studio to mess around. Fire on a playlist for a few hours and bash through songs or work on rudiments. Most of the time we are travelling so a lot of my practise is in rehearsals or soundchecks. When I’m backstage I’ll get out a practise pad and bash out some rudiments for an hour or so before a gig… well as much as I can!


How does it work for Yungblud, are you based mainly in LA or over in the UK?

We’re kind of based here (UK) and in LA. The label’s in LA, and management is out there as well as in London, so there’s two bases to go back and forth between.

You’re on a massive world tour with Yungblud at the moment, how’s it going?

Insane! Last year was pretty intense, we did 10 months of touring out of the whole year. We also had a European tour back in January that was sold out, and an Australian tour that was sold out too. Christmas was the longest period we had off and that was 3 weeks. At first I thought we were going to have the whole of December off but then we did some promo bits and ended up getting the show with Muse at the Royal Albert Hall and the diary filled up. I never complain about it though, it’s amazing to get out and play in front of all these fans who want to come and see the show. The thing I love about Dom is that he never turns down a show. If there’s a show we can do that means playing somewhere we’ve never been before, or playing in front of new fans then he wants to do it, so we’re lucky enough to play across the whole world and meet loads of people.


You play a Natal Maple Originals kit, how do you have it set up?

Pretty simple really, I’ve got a 22″ kick drum, 14″ snare, 12″ rack tom and 16″ floor tom, and that’s it. I’ve also got a ride and two crashes. I’ve not gone crazy with a huge kit with a million rack toms just yet!


So what’s next for you?

The last time we played the UK was September last year and it was only 4 or 5 dates but we’re currently on a proper tour and the shows have been mad. We played a great sold out show in Glasgow which is where me and Adam are from, and Manchester was insane because that’s around where Dom’s from. Newcastle sticks out too. The third song we played Dom got everyone jumping up and down and I’ve never felt a stage wobble like that. We had a couple of beers on top of an amp and because the place was moving so much they fell off the amp and I thought this is crazy!

We’ve got a bit of time after that to go in the studio then we’re into the whole American tour, which sold out in minutes, so it’s going to be a crazy year, which I can’t wait for.


There’s a Yungblud live album coming out, do you have to adapt to playing live or is it the same as when you’re in the studio?

Dom had produced all the songs from the first album so there’s not a lot of live drums or guitars on them, so when we were first starting out Dom had the idea of changing it up a little bit. For tracks like ‘King Charles’ and ‘I love you, will you marry me?’ we adapted them to be bigger and a bit longer. We worked on the breakdown sections and added some extra elements, so we will always get in and change things.

Even the new song ‘Loner’ is not the same live, there’s some added bits and a bit of a different feel to add a bit more impact, and to get the crowd involved and sing along. We try to change it up as much as we can so that people are still hearing the record but they’re hearing a different version of it live. Plus Dom bouncing across the stage for an hour and a half is quite interesting to see!


Who are your drum heroes?

To be honest I remember being asked this when I was at university, and there were probably twelve of us in this drum class and everyone started shouting out Steve Gadd and all these jazz drummers while I was thinking “I have no clue who any of these people are”! I always listened to bands but I never really followed a drummer for their style of playing. I just picked up my own thing based upon sounds I liked. When I was growing up pop punk was really in so Travis Barker was someone I did like, but looking back to the things like the Police and Sting, Vinnie Colaiuta was one of my favourite drummers, and then Chad Smith as well because he’s a very solid drummer. Also Matt Tong from Bloc Party. I think I’ve seen them five times live and from hearing the records to watching him live and seeing him do it is pretty insane, so he’s someone I’ve always looked up to.


What’s the best drumming advice you’ve been given?

Practise. Just no matter how difficult it gets or how many mistakes you make, or how many sticks you drop. I used to beat myself up when I made one tiny mistake on stage but more or less no one knows apart from you. Just keep practising and plugging away and you’ll get there.


Read the original article on here. Find Michael on Instagram.